As the first official pre-season test of 2012 kicked off today in Jerez Renault Sport F1 have been busy, adding a fourth team Williams to their roster of customer teams along with Caterham, Lotus and the works outfit, Red Bull.
This year will see Renault’s 35th year of competition in Formula One, producing ten Constructors’ titles and nine driving titles, and they will be hoping that the RS27 will bring more glory with Red Bull this season.
Having added another new team to their supply for two consecutive years Renault Sport will feel assured that they can continue to improve their performance. “We learnt from the experience of 2011 when we added a third team, and we put in place measures to ensure that there was no drop off in overall performance or service in doing so,” said Rob White, deputy managing director of Renault Sport F1.
One of Renault’s main challenges for this season was adapting the engine around the new exhaust regulations. The rule change regarding the necessity to run rear facing exhausts, to a certain extent, returns the exhaust specifications back to those used in 2010. “It’s not been as simple as turning back the clock as the cars have evolved since then, as have the rules concerning torque maps and engine settings.” Added White.
Changes to the shaping of the exhaust have come as good news to Renault as they feel they could have an increased engine output of 10-20bhp. This is made possible by straight and completely round final sections of the exhaust, which allows for the reopening of the outlets. Each of Renault Sport’s customers will be looking to maximise this gain, and with the use of KERS it could prove to be a vital passing tool in a straight line. Caterham in particular will be excited by this prospect as they head into 2012 looking to use their new KERS system as their stepping stone into the midfield. They believed that not having KERS in 2011 cost them potential points scoring finishes.
The introduction of a twenty-race calendar in 2012 will put a lot of pressure on engine manufacturers to insure reliability throughout the season and Renault Sport have been making any possible tweaks to put each engine through its three-race weekend expectation. “Between seasons we have worked hard to optimize parts to give consistency across their life and, therefore to give consistency across all our engines, regardless of their mileage. This should allow us to deliver engines with a theoretical unlimited kilometre range within the tacit three races weekend per engine expectation, which will give us an advantage with flexibility with 20 races on the calendar this year.” Said White.
Renault Sport F1 will be aiming at securing further World Championships this year as Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel push to make it a hat-trick for both Constructors’ and Drivers’ titles. Lotus F1 have come out of the blocks quickly, as they did last year, and with a seemingly comfortable Kimi Raikkonen they are looking to take atleast fourth spot in the teams championship by the season end. However, the most intriguing battle for Renault Sport and Formula One fans is likely to come between Caterham F1 and Williams F1. Caterham begins this season looking to catch the likes of Williams, and having both teams running the same engine is set to give us a good indicator of how this year’s regualtions have affected each squad.